For around two weeks straight I was having a horrendous time falling asleep. I mean, falling asleep by anywhere near four a.m. was a miracle. For the past three nights though, I'd been falling asleep easily (mind you for two of them I'd had a sleep aid, one being Tylenol PM and the other a melatonin tab). I mean, half an hour if even that and I was sleeping like I was comatose. It was wonderful. I thought, "yay! I can sleep! I can go to bed and not keep Ben up all night by crying and laughing in fits of exhaustion and insanity!"
Jinxed it. I could not sleep tonight. It probably has something to do with a lot of stress and the death of Hermione, who we'd been graced with for longer than we thought possible. We have two rex boys and two rex girls, all four litter mates. The boys, once about six months old if not a week or two older, will be bred if they're still healthy enough for it (not prone to myco infections, not sneezing, not prone to things like diarrhea or any other general health risk). We're still going to see which girls are eligible (their sisters and Persephone are already excluded for health reasons and the fact that inbreeding siblings is not a good thing to do).
I've started a log in a composition journal and I'm going to be keeping it and probably several others throughout my rat-loving life. It's logging which rats are healthy which things they are and are not prone to, ages at specific dates, behavior patterns and if they are medicated for any reason and for how long.
Ben and I have already decided we will not be advertising online, only locally through his college and on any other community boards. He's a graphic designer, so fliers/cards will be no problem. We will be doing no more than 3-4 litters per year and no doe will be bred more than once that year and twice in their lifetime. We will also have to build cages/homes as well as buying more supplies for a retention rate or take backs on any rats we adopt out. We will be having a contract and interview process. Anyone with any intention of feeding a reptile is automatically disqualified.
We'll be adopting out in same sex pairs, giving starter kits to anyone who does not have the supplies necessary already upon adoption. I'll be wanting to keep contact with anyone who adopts a baby, if through no other means that facebook even. To be able to see what's going on with them as well as be able to take them back should anything happen. I'll also be figuring out a reimbursement plan for any kind of accident/illness that should rear its ugly head. I'll be straight forward right now, I want to be a breeder that I myself would adopt from if it weren't myself and Ben. To me, a good reimbursement plan is one that doesn't make someone feel like they were robbed and an innocent animal paid the price.
We won't be anywhere near breeding until at least January, that way Ben and I have enough time to observe and record the behavior and health of the rats. We will also have had enough time to get together things like starter kits, a good nursery and have more than just Algernon who can be bred (right now she's the only one old enough, and conveniently she's healthy enough too, haha).
At the end of the day these are living, breathing animals with very real feelings. I want to make this a good experience so that I can continue and improve.
Now, I am tired as kerfuffle right now so I don't know if I mentioned that we have two rex boys. Now that I just typed that, I realize I did mention it because I was talking about how their sisters are excluded from breeding. Wow, memory... thanks. Anyway, moving on, the way by which we ended up with our boys is kind of funny. If you've read my first blog post, you'll recall me ranting and raving about Jack's Aquarium and Pets. The one we went to was in Beavercreek, Ohio and they are deplorable. I've heard that a lot of Jack's stores are deplorable. This being the case, Ben and I have taken up going to our local Jack's here in Dayton and rescuing babies on occasion when it strikes us. Well, we were there two days ago and they were short on small does (5 weeks to roughly two months). One of their employees told me they have rats up above that were old enough to be pets, just too small for feeders so that's why it said they weren't for sale. Low and behold, Ben and I look in and what do we find... single rex babies. Well, we ended up buying two along with a standard coat odd eye girlie Ben named Aphrodite. I named the lighter of the two Cream and the darker, cinnamon colored rat is Precious. Well, because of my own error when sexing them, we ended up with Cream being a boy.
Well there was absolutely no way we were returning him. So today we went back to get another boy and another girl from the same litter. The assistant manager opened up the glass for us, then proceeded to ignore my request to be able to pick out my own babies and instead just went ahead and declared the rest of the litter to be boys and we picked out what we thought were two boys, Duke and Bear. We get home, we have the boys in their home and the little girls in the large cage where the big girls used to live (they now live in a bird cage with just the right amount of space). The assistant manager, because she had no clue what she was actually doing and instead assumed that Ben and I, as customers, were morons who shouldn't be allowed to pick out their own pets wrongly sexed one of the "boys". Duke is actually a Duchess. Now, I'm glad this happened because when Hermione left us, she left a gap in that cage that needed filled and Ben and I were worried as to how it was going to happen. That and Cream still has Bear for companionship and general roughhousing.
But the only reason I actually double checked is because Ben, who will admit he knows far less than I do, asked me to double check because he was unsure if the girl at the store was right. When I had wrongly sexed Cream it was due to him having sucked in his testicles and his fur being so very curly and dense that until I double checked, I couldn't tell and even then I had to look at how far apart the anus was from the urethra. This woman not only doesn't know how to sex the babies, but she wouldn't let me in so I could check for myself. Because it's not like I could have sexed them or anything, nah, I'm just a dumb customer, what do I know? *sigh* Bad customer service is BAD.
It wasn't that I'd been given a buck a doe. That was what Ben and I had originally wanted. It was that someone else may have wanted a same sex pair and wouldn't have been given such. Well, when you end up with a pregnant 5-6 week old doe who's pregnant you can end up with, at the best, live babies and Momma and at the worst a dead Momma and babies because she was too young to support the stress of pregnancy. Well then, guess who could quite possibly end up with a lawsuit (class action if someone were to actually look into Jack's deep enough, even their website doesn't have accurate information).
Short story long is that Ben and I are going back Sunday, asking for a manager and telling them what our honest, angry opinions are in the most professional way possible. This is because I could just go in there and rant and rave cause a scene, but to me the only real way to combat bad service and bad people in general is by being a better person and making sure that they don't screw up again. Whether it means she gets fired or demoted and has to, oh no dare I say it, respect the customer it doesn't matter at this point. This isn't the first time I'd heard about her being rude. When Ben was buying Hermione she ignored him because he was a waste of her time. She told another girl working there to go take care of him because she didn't want to. Give me a break and grow up, lady. You're old enough to work full time and take responsibility for your actions regarding the lives of animals. Act like it. Don't think you are better than anyone else, you're not. You're human just like the rest of us.
G'mornin, g'night or g'day
Afterthought: Hermione was perfect the way she was and was a miracle and a blessing. I'm glad she isn't in pain, I just wish I could have had more time.